Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hummus and Perqs

Did the word "perqs" confuse you?

How about "perks"?

Same thing. Perks is a friendlier spelling of perqs which is short for perquisite, which I think is an interesting word. It rhymes with requisite, but it's not something that's required. It's (according to Google's definition) "a thing regarded as a special right or privilege enjoyed as a result of one's position."

I also like the short version, perq, because it has a q that isn't followed by a u. So that makes it unique. I also like it because absolutely no one uses perq any more, and I'm quirky like that.

One of the perqs of being a blogger is getting free stuff. This is in addition to the work of being a blogger, which sometimes includes being paid to write stuff. The pay is not a perq, since it's earned. The free stuff thrown in, though, is very perqy.

Another perq is getting invited to events. Recently, the folks at Sprouts (a local grocery store chain, if they're not in your area) invited a bunch of bloggers to an event at Hope Foods, a local maker of hummus. And now guacamole. But mostly hummus.

(Note: Of course people who provide the perqs ((I love that spelling!)) hope that it will result in bloggers writing about their products. They're not being charitable; they're savvy marketers. But there's no contract. No one is obligated to write. So ... it's up to the blogger to decide whether something is of interest to their readers or whether it's worth a post on social media, or whether it's just another meh that goes in the pile of stuff that's donated to charity. I only write about stuff that amuses me and/or that I think my readers will be interested in.)

So, at the event we bloggers mingled, chatted, and sampled. Hope has a chocolate hummus that I'm still trying to wrap my head around. When I think of it as hummus, my brain says, no, hummus is tan colored and has lemon and garlic or herbs and spices and you eat it with pita chips or vegetables. But it's not chocolate.

But when I don't think of it as hummus, it reminds me of brownie batter. It has that sort of texture ... not smooth like Nutella. It tastes good. I licked the spoon. And then I wondered what I could do with it.

I could eat it with a Ritz cracker or graham cracker. But something about that chocolate hummus makes me want to cook with it. It has potential to be the secret ingredient in something.

I'm just not sure what, yet.

Another interesting sample was their guacamole. Let's be honest here. I don't buy guacamole, I buy avocados. That are never ripe enough, so I have to let them sit a while. It's always this balancing act between when I buy them and when I want to eat them, and I don't always win. Sigh.

I've tried a few store-bought guacamoles, and some are just plain horrible. They don't even resemble guacamole. They're weird and slimy and even if the flavor is acceptable the texture is all all alllll wrong.

But the Hope guacamole was pretty close to home made. Not exactly how I make mine, because we all have our special recipes. But the texture was right, and that's really important. The secret is how they sterilize all their foods. Instead of heat-processing, which changes the texture and flavor of foods (I mean, seriously, you're cooking it!) they use a cold water method that subjects the packaged food to super-high pressure so that the nasties are killed without cooking the food. Cooked guacamole is no bueno. Pressurized guacamole tastes like guacamole.

I'm not going to stop buying avocados, because they have so many uses beyond guac. And I'll still make my own guacamole. But if I'm ever in a guacamole emergency where I don't have a ripe avocado nearby, I'd be more than happy to pick up a container of the Hope guacamole. Or to keep one in the fridge for potential guacamole emergencies, since it lasts quite a while before it's opened.

We also took a tour of the facility, where we saw the mixing, packaging, and preserving process and learned a little about the company. They make everything they can on-site, including their own sriracha. They get dried chickpeas (grown in the US) and they cook them on-site. They don't use a co-packer to do any of their work. They started out making hummus by hand and selling it at the local farmer's market, and they want to stick as close to those roots as possible, even though they now have a factory instead of a blender in someone's kitchen. It's a young company, and they're all very hands-on and enthusiastic.

So anyway, besides mingling and tasting and taking a tour of the facility, we were also given two different guacamole bases for us to make our own hummus flavors.

I wasn't all that fond of the sweet base as-is, but I added almond butter, cherry preserves, ginger, lemon, a hint of cinnamon, and some red pepper flakes. And, hey! It was pretty good! Still a tad on the sweet side, but the ginger and red pepper added heat and the almond butter mellowed it out, so it wasn't all sweet. I might actually get on this sweet hummus bandwagon.

The savory one got lime, sesame seeds, roasted red peppers, and chili powder. Maybe something else. Oh! Garlic. I didn't write it down, I just added a bit here and there and mixed it all up. The roasted red peppers could have used a blender to break them up, but I was happy with the combo. And then we put our hummuseseses (hummi? Hummipotamuses?) into cute little jars that they had labeled just for us. Awwwwww. And we stole the spatulas. Yup, right into the goodie bags they went.

Okay, fine. They said we could take them.

It was an interesting couple hours, I saw some local bloggers I haven't seen in a while, and met some new friends. And I came home with a bag full of hummus, guacamole, and other goodies supplied by Hope Foods and Sprouts, who sponsored the event.

I don't know how far Hope Hummus is being distributed yet, but if you see it in your area and you're a hummus fan, give it a try. They have lot of creative flavors, and they're working on creating more. And be sure to check out the guacamole!

As for the chocolate hummus... look for that to appear here in a recipe. As soon as I figure out what the heck I'm going to do with it.

Thanks to Hope Foods and Sprouts for sponsoring a fun event! And stuff! I got stuff!